Tag Archive | France

The mad carnival that is the New York City Marathon

My wife’s cousin Erin ran the New York City Marathon and several of us planned to go meet her along the route. Erin had arranged things so that friends and family would meet her at several points along the 26.2 mile run. We were scheduled to meet her about halfway through the run in Long Island City, Queens.

Taking two toddlers onto the 7 train is one of the most torturous mass transit experiences you can have. We gave them munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts and that sated their hunger but made them thirsty. We had no water for them, only giant coffee drinks that they couldn’t have. They cried and tried to wrestle free. Where on the 7 train they intended to go we had no idea, but they cried and screamed to be free of us.

Time slows down when you are the couple who brought crying children on the subway, but we eventually reached the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 train in Long Island City. Not wanting to take a double stroller onto subway, we brought backpack baby holders to carry them around in, but we had to hustle off the train to have space on the platform to wrestle the girls into those. We emerged from the subway stop into the cool November air. The weather was perfect for the race, and the marathon was close by and well under way.

The New York City Marathon is a somewhat of a crazy carnival. People show up with funny signs and runners often jog by in odd costumes. People show up to push their own causes: people handed out pamphlets for Bernard Sanders and solicited donations; the Jewish group Chabad had a space set up with a PA and hospitality to cheer on the runners.

There were a plethora of inspirational signs: ‘You CAN even!’ and ‘Run like the METS Depend on it’ were two of the more clever ones on display in Long Island City. A few held up signs that read, ‘Welcome to Queens!’ A few groups had enlarged photos of their friends and loved ones in the marathon. A couple near where we were standing had two large neon-colored Ls, their daughter’s initials. She gave them big hugs and was moved by their presence.

The runners reflect the city’s diverse patchwork of oddities as well. There were lots of runners dressed in the spirit of Halloween. I saw one competitor wearing a sheep suit and many more dressed superheroes such as Superman or Iron Man.

The runners are also an inspiration and represent all that is good about New York. They showcase the perseverance of the human spirit. There were runners that looked like they had to be in their 60s or 70s, including one elderly runner hobbling along with forearm crutches. One marathon runner was blind and was being helped along by some guides.

Lots of runners had their names on their jerseys and it was easy to root for them by name. More still had ear buds in their ears and were listening to music and so shouting encouragement to them was in vain. I decided I would shout, “Vive La France!” at French runners. They seemed to appreciate my support.

After tracking her via smart phones, our family group saw my wife’s cousin Erin as she approached us. She was in great spirits and chatted with us for a bit while waiting for her running partner. She munched in a snack, gave us hugs, and was off again. She finished the race in good time.

Here’s to all the marathon runners and everyone hitting the pavement and chasing your dreams.

Nous Sommes Charlie

New York is a city that lives on the freedom of expression. It is the place where people come to from all over the world to be free and to be themselves. There are many thousands of Muslims in New York and no one has been killed here over a cartoon.

New Yorkers were aghast that people in a civilized country like France could be massacred because they published cartoons of a religious figure. Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of lots of religious figures, it was their depiction of the prophet Mohammed that got them killed. True to form, the newspaper has vowed it will publish again.

If I were a better artist, I’d draw up some nice Mohammed cartoons of my own. But cartoonists quickly reacted with great artistic aplomb and there are now many great works of art depicting the Islamic prophet in a host of inventive poses. More power to them.

That there is any reluctance to embrace the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement is a troubling sign that the cowardice in the face of Islamic extremism is already firmly rooted among many in the West. Some media outlets are even declining to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published. Those editors are cowards.

Each terror attack generates more pathetic coddling of Muslims than backlash attacks against them. The bodies at the Charlie Hebdo offices weren’t cold before the Internet was littered with the usual moral scolds warning us against “intolerance.”

Intolerance is actually OK when faced with the intolerable, and murdering people for publishing cartoons is as intolerable as it gets. It is right to be intolerant of any ideology that feels justified treading on the freedoms of others. It would be wrong to paint all Muslims with such a broad brush, but not acknowledging Islam’s greater propensity for violence is being willfully ignorant. The immediate calls for “tolerance” in the face of terror cross the line from reason to submission.

There’s also a big difference between criticizing and satirizing the tenets of Islam and attacking Muslims. People who burn down mosques are attacking Muslims. Publishing a cartoon that makes fun of the prophet Mohammed is par for the course. Like it or not, Mohammed’s success in founding one of the world’s largest religions has made him a public figure and public figures are subject to ridicule regularly.

Most of my family and friends are Christians and they can take seeing Jesus ridiculed. Christians believe Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him, so posting a cartoon of Jesus giving Mohammed a reach-around has got to be forgivable.

We should have as many Charlie Hebdos as the newsstands and Internet can hold. We should saturate the market with as much blasphemous imagery as possible and let religious fanatics see their icons desecrated every day.

The idea of killing a cartoonist or a writer over satirical work is so appallingly immoral that it demands we double down on the blasphemous satire. There should be no publication in the world not running offensive Mohammed cartoons.

Islamic fundamentalists have now made it a moral imperative to insult their prophet in the most objectionable manor possible. No one should hesitate to publish a single one.

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